Head of OPERA has resigned

From the Beeb: the head of the OPERA experiment, which caused that flurry over some neutrinos apparently travelling faster than the speed of light, has resigned.

Just a recap on what the whole thing was about: the OPERA experiment was (and still is) a collaboration between the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy and CERN to detect neutrinos. However, they noticed that the neutrinos were arriving earlier than they should – by about 60 nanoseconds, or 0.000000060 seconds. Which meant they were travelling about 0.0025% faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Of course, EVERYONE got really excited about it, even though most physicists were sceptical. I was too. It turned out that a wire hadn’t been plugged in correctly, something that just about anyone could do. Since the ICARUS group tested this and found no discrepancy at all, the whole thing has died down.

And now, the head of the experiment is resigning. There is no statement as to why, but why? Maybe he’s just worn out after it all. It might be that they need a scapegoat – but I have no idea why. Everyone makes mistakes, and the whole thing made a perfect example of the scientific method at work. For that reason alone, I’m not going to forget about it.

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About Philip

I'm a physics graduate, sci-fi writer, budding game designer, and amateur human.

5 responses to “Head of OPERA has resigned”

  1. martenvandijk says :

    The tragedy is that this person apparently believes in Einstein’s theory of relativity, which theory tells us that the laws of physics are independent of time and place. Otherwise he would not have started the project, knowing that it is impossible to measure time-distance relations with absolute certainty.

    • Philip says :

      I thought that the whole point of OPERA was to be able to detect neutrinos, not measure their velocity.

      So how does special relativity make it impossible to, as you put it, “measure time-distance relations with absolute certainty”?

      • martenvandijk says :

        “I thought…..”

        Opera did measure the speed of neutrinos and claimed to have found a speed higher than the speed of light.

        “So how….”

        That is not what I said. .

  2. Philip says :

    Opera did measure the speed of neutrinos and claimed to have found a speed higher than the speed of light.

    I probably didn’t explain myself properly. What I meant was that, as far as I’m aware, the original aim of OPERA was to detect neutrinos, but the apparent speed being faster was an unintended anomaly that they (quite rightly) thought was worth investigating.

    In your original comment, you actually did say

    it is impossible to measure time-distance relations with absolute certainty.

    How is this the case? I can understand the part about the laws of physics being the same for all observers, but I don’t see how it gets to that particular statement. Could you please elaborate?

  3. martenvandijk says :

    F”I probably….”

    OK.

    “How is this…..”

    Time varies witho gravitational strength.

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